I woke a bit early. Not early enough to go back to sleep. I got up.

I dithered a bit with my morning routine. One thing at a time. Got through it. Great. Fine. Necessary. Completed.

I sat down, eventually, with my coffee. It’s been awhile. Mostly just… sitting quietly. Scrolling. Done with that, too. Bored? No. Ennui? Not that either.

Anxiety.

Just garden variety anxiety on a Wednesday morning, without specific context or cause. It is the nature of an anxiety disorder, of any sort, really, to deliver some anxiety, however “well-managed”, now and then. Must be my morning for it.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

It’s been with me awhile. “All my life” does not feel like an exaggeration. I take it much less seriously these days, seeing it for the fraud it actually is, and managing its presence more skillfully than I once could. Still… annoying to deal with, every time… and dealing with it is non-negotiable. Deal with it, or fall apart. Deal with it, or break down. Deal with it, or lose my shit completely in some very inconvenient or problematic way. Deal with it – or deal with the consequences of failing to do so. Fuck anxiety.

I don’t need to troubleshoot my anxiety. It’s got a familiar face; work, life, money, “the world”…  I’m real with myself about it. There’s more anxiety about more things than is entirely reasonable (it’s a scary fucking world right now, frankly, being a little anxious seems pretty damned reasonable). I take a deep breath and let myself relax each time I notice it surging forward, bubbling up from my consciousness to become part of my immediate awareness; it helps. It helps, too, not to deceive myself or play soothing mind-games to try to wish it away. I examine what seems to be driving my anxiety. I consider those things with care. Real? Exaggerated? Imagined? Sometimes anxiety is pretty legit, and functions to hold my focus on some concerning detail, until I take an appropriate action. Sometimes anxiety is just… wasted emotion. A reaction without a cause worth acting on. Disordered thinking. Sometimes, of all the irritating things, it is not anxiety at all – sometimes I have conflated the physical experience of excitement with the physical experience of anxiety, and don’t yet realize I’m just excited about something, and could enjoy that moment of anticipation much more, if I stop defining it as anxiety.

I breathe. Relax. Let it go. I let it all go. This thing over here? I let that go. That thing over there? Yep. That, too, I let it go. Another breath. Another concern. Another moment to let shit go. It’s a practice, and it requires practicing, and that means verbs, and that means choices, and that means… working at it.

Still.

So, yeah. Mindfulness is enormously helpful with managing my anxiety. It’s not a “cure”. It’s a tool, and a way of experiencing life, that can be very helpful. I feel much better when I maintain a rigorous meditation practice than when I don’t. I feel much better when I am able to maintain exceptional sleep hygiene, than when I don’t. I feel much better when I am open, authentic, vulnerable, and real with myself – and others – than when I am not. I feel much better when I get out of the house, get plenty of healthy exercise, and a good measure of both social and solo time. It’s not some one practice that eases my anxiety; it’s practicing the ones that work best for me in a consistent way.

Sometimes I fail.

Sometimes I succeed.

I just keep practicing.

It’s one of the challenges of achieving mental and emotional wellness; the work is on my end. I have to do the verbs. I’m going to be the one practicing the practices to improve my own experience. It’s my journey, built on my choices. Incremental change over time is fucking slow as hell, and can be incredibly discouraging; I still have PTSD, a TBI, a broken back, and a very human experience. All the improvement in my experience of self and life I could ever imagine will not change those things. No cure. Just practice, growth, and incremental change over time. 🙂

Sure. I’m anxious this morning. I have an anxiety disorder. I also, unrelated but metaphorically relevant, have a thyroid that failed years ago. I take medication for it, and go on with living my life. Anxiety isn’t really a lot different; I’ve got some fail sauce and messed up wiring in my emotional experience; I practice meditation, breathing, and other assorted practices for that, and go on with living my life. If my thyroid medication doesn’t work ideally well, I go back to my physician, and we make changes. If my anxiety flares up, I go back to my practices (and, in some cases, also back to my therapist), and make changes. “Easy”. (It isn’t, but it is generally adequate.)

I breathe. Relax. Run my writing through a spellcheck (which will reliably miss at least one error, regardless). Hit publish…

…And begin the day. It’s a whole new one, all my own. Fuck anxiety.